Opinker returns as Hammond City Council president

2013-01-18T19:30:00Z 2013-01-18T23:08:14Z Opinker returns as Hammond City Council presidentChelsea Schneider Kirk chelsea.schneider@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | The Hammond City Council voted in familiar leadership for 2013, renaming Councilman Michael Opinker to another term as president.

Councilman Mark Kalwinski, D-1st, will return as vice president after council members took an unanimous vote at last week's meeting.

Opinker, D-5th, said he will work to bring council members together after a year of, at times, tense debate at meetings.

“Last year there was a lot of animosity among certain councilmen not getting along at all times,” Opinker said. “Being a leader and working with the group for a year, I feel I have the capabilities of getting everybody on the same page and (working) a lot closer than we did last year.”

Opinker is currently serving his first elected term on the council. Opinker came on the council in 2010, when he replaced former Councilman Dan Repay, who left to become director of the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission.

Opinker said one of the biggest issues for the city is whether county government decides to adopt a local option income tax. If approved, the revenue expected from the tax would free up gaming money the city had to use to shore up the 2013 budget.

“Once funds come available, we'll be able to use gaming money for other things other than bailing the city out,” Opinker said.

“There's projects in my district that have been put on hold, and constituents out there are upset with it. I don't blame them. The money is not there.”

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